Staphylococcosis has a major economic impact on rabbit farming worldwide. Previous studies described a highly virulent variant, which is disseminated across Europe. Such strains are reported to be capable of inducing uncontrollable outbreaks. The authors describe a survey conducted on 374 Staphylococcus strains isolated from rabbit farms, mostly from Hungary, between 2009 and 2014, from a variety of pathological processes. The virulence type of the strains was determined using a multiplex PCR system. 84.2% of the strains belonged to a previously rarely isolated atypical highly virulent type. Only 6.1% belonged to the typical highly virulent genotype. Even low virulent strains were present at a higher percentage (6.4%). For a small group of strains (3.2%) the detection of the femA gene failed, indicating that these strains probably do not belong to the Staphylococcus aureus species. The results reveal the possibility of the asymptomatic presence of highly virulent strains on rabbit farms. “Non-aureus” Staphylococcus sp. can also have a notable role in the etiology of rabbit staphylococcosis. An association with the lesions and the virulence type was demonstrated. Statistical analysis of data on organotropism showed a significant correlation between septicaemia and the highly virulent genotype.
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